For this month’s Business Beat article, we reached out to Revelstoke Property Services for advice for landlords and tenants. Eve Northmore, who owns and runs the company alongside Scott Duke, responded with these helpful tips.
The best advice I can give to potential landlords is:
1. RESEARCH BEFORE BUYING: Take the time to properly assess your potential rental property before buying if possible. Research and seek advice from experts and other landlords on what to expect and watch out for and ensure you understand the full scope of what is truly involved.
2. LOOK AT YOUR NUMBERS: Crunch the rental numbers. Research what a realistic rental rate is for your home and what your ideal tenant in Revelstoke can afford. You will find this does not always match up with what your income goal is or even the base cost to carry and maintain the property. Expect to spend at minimum $100 per month for expenses and basic upkeep. This does not include major repairs such as roofs, plumbing, heating, emergencies etc.
3. PREPARE YOUR PROPERTY PROPERLY. The best way to ensure your property is treated with respect is to put in the effort to make it what we call “Rental Ready”. If it doesn’t start off in great condition how can you expect someone to keep it that way? This does mean upfront costs before you receive any income but it pays off over the course of the tenancy. Be sure to alert your insurance company.
4. TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS: Let your neighbours know you will be renting the property and give them your contact info as a sign of consideration to them. Inform your new tenants who their neighbours are. You would like your new tenant to feel a sense of responsibility, respect and belonging in their new neighbourhood.
5. DO IT RIGHT. The BC tenancy paperwork is free online and includes lease work, move in inspections and notices. Understand the tenancy act and what your rights are as a landlord, what your tenants rights are and what the lease work means. You can call the tenancy board in Vancouver and speak to their knowledgeable staff who are great sources of information.
6. DO NOT INCLUDE UTILITIES! Sorry tenants, the party’s over. Including utilities is the equivalent of burning money for a landlord. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own consumption habits. Just because Sally likes to walk around in a tank top in the middle of the winter doesn’t mean it should be at your cost and trust us, it will be.
7. BE PICKY. There is a perfect tenant type for every property. Be careful who you are renting to and take the time to meet them in person and check their references. Assess their risk level and rental history, and if they are the right fit for you and your property. Remember this person could be in your life for a long time!
8. REWARD GREAT TENANTS. Great tenants are awesome! They care for your petunias, touch up the paint, befriend your neighbours, communicate respectfully and pay their rent on time. The savings to the owner in having a great tenant is tenfold. If that annual increase is not necessary or the heating bill came in extra extra high due to your single pane windows, consider the small things you can do to give them a break and let them know they are appreciated.
The best advice I can give to potential tenants is very similar, just on the flip side of the coin:
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PROPERTY FOR YOU. Don’t settle for something which you know is not a fit because you are in a panic. Rent a space that meets your realistic needs in location, budget and rental type. Consider if you really want to enter into a relationship with the landlord. Respect the limiting factors of the choice you made. If you would like to take up the drums or have dinner parties every night, an apartment building is unfortunately not the place for you.
2. PETS: This is a sore spot in Revelstoke and I will be very blunt. The key point is to remember that you made a choice to have a companion and that comes at a cost in dollars, time and often accommodation sacrifices. You are asking a stranger to raise and board an animal in what is often their only major investment and for anyone, that is terrifying!
The cold hard reality is: 1. Pets are a living, breathing animal that have an impact on their surroundings. 2. Pets are more wear and tear on a property than not having pets. 3. It will be harder to rent a property with an animal.
Often you will sacrifice a well kept or higher-end property for your pet. It will cost you more and you need to ensure you can afford to rent a property which offers a good quality of life for dear sweet Fluffy. The best thing you can do is prove yourself a respectable, mature, stable person who is also then a respectable and mature pet owner. A respectable pet owner and tenant means: training them, disciplining them constantly, picking up after them every day, ensuring plenty of exercise and not leaving them home for long periods of time alone, paying or repairing damages or cleaning costs from mishaps.
3. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. You can call the tenancy board and talk to a live human being who will answer any questions you have. Read and understand what you are signing, it’s not just for show, it comes with realistic consequences which can affect your life and credit. Learn the difference between a month-to-month and fixed-term tenancy.
4.CHOOSE YOUR ROOMMATES WISELY. Make sure they are a match with your habits, lifestyle and the kind of house you want to live in. Split signing up for the various bills between everyone so one person doesn’t feel the full burden and risk at months end.
5. PAY YOUR RENT ON TIME. There are many rules but only one bothers even the most flexible landlords. Please pay your rent on time. This may be a surprise, but your Revelstoke residential landlord isn’t some rich fat-cat relaxing in their beach house in the Bahamas using your rent money for pina coladas and jet-ski rentals. Please, please respect the fact that they have a mortgage to pay and their credit is on the line too. Life happens and often a simple phone call to let them know you will be late is all you need to do. Don’t wait for them to call; by then they are already annoyed, stressed and you have now dropped a peg on the great tenant ladder. This is a key part in showing you respect them and the agreement you have.
6. BE A GOOD NEIGHBOUR. You don’t need to be a stranger, introduce yourselves. It feels really really good to know and help those around you. You never know, that batch of cookies you dropped off for them could mean your driveway is magically plowed one morning.